Multiple outlets report today that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle asked to ride back to the United States with President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden following Queen Elizabeth’s funeral last September but were turned down.
Sources told The Daily Mail that it was an immediate no from the White House, adding that the request was a “non-starter.”
“It would have caused such a commotion,” a source said. “It would have strained relations with the Palace and the new king,” referring, of course, to King Charles.
The Bidens were two of many dignitaries present for Her late Majesty’s funeral last September 19. They were also in attendance at a reception for global leaders and foreign royals hosted by King Charles the day prior.
Harry and Meghan had coincidentally been in the U.K. taking part in charity engagements when the Queen’s health took a turn for the worse, ultimately leading to her passing on September 8 at the age of 96. When it came time to return to the U.S. after the funeral, Harry and Meghan’s staff “reached out to the White House to ask if the couple could get a ride back to the United States on Air Force One,” noting it would have been a “grand photo opportunity.”
The U.S. government pays for officials to travel aboard Air Force One, and President Biden personally pays for his family members to fly on the plane. Had Harry and Meghan been granted permission to fly aboard the plane, it was unclear who would foot the bill.
The couple have a longstanding relationship with the Bidens; Jill Biden attended Harry’s Invictus Games as far back as 2017, alongside her husband and then President Barack Obama. However, when she was invited to the 2022 Games, she was advised not to attend, per Page Six.
“British officials, in a working level conversation, conveyed to National Security Council staff that they thought the idea would land badly,” a source told The Daily Mail. Instead, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and his husband Chasten led the U.S. delegation.
OK reports that First Lady Biden wanted to attend, and that she and Harry have a warm relationship, bonding over the Warrior Games. In September 2021, the two hosted a Zoom call after that year’s Games were canceled because of the pandemic. Both had warm comments to say about the other, with Harry telling Dr. Biden “Thank you for your service and your continued support over all these years. It’s been fantastic to see you in action in various parts of the world giving everything that you’ve got to so many people—not just those who wear the uniform but to the families, as well. A lot of them wouldn’t be here without you, so thank you.”
Dr. Biden returned the kindness, telling Harry “You live by a simple principle: Serve together, recover together. It’s a philosophy not limited by the flag you wear. Your brothers- and sisters-in-arms are connected by something so much deeper than the borders that separate us. You’ve dedicated your time, talents, and heart to lifting up service members from around the globe.”
Per The Daily Mail, Dr. Biden also apparently showed a sign of support for Harry and Meghan after their 2021 bombshell sit-down with Oprah Winfrey. “The day after the interview aired, Jill Biden wore an Oscar de la Renta dress with a lemon pattern to the State Department’s International Women of Courage Awards,” the outlet reports. “It was similar to an Oscar de la Renta dress Meghan had worn a month before. Twitter saw Jill’s outfit as a subtle nod of support to Team Sussex.” So did Meghan, apparently, who sent the First Lady a basket of lemons to say thank you.
President Biden and King Charles met earlier this month at Windsor Castle—their first formal meeting since the King’s Coronation in May. During the meeting, President Biden was accused of breaking royal protocol when he was spotted placing his hand on the King’s back, but The Independent reports that Charles didn’t mind, with a source saying Charles was “entirely comfortable” with the gesture. “What a wonderful symbol of warmth and affection it was between both the individuals and their nations,” a source said.
Harry and Meghan have called the U.S. home since early 2020, residing in California; Harry’s brother, Prince William, will himself be stateside in September to appear at the Earthshot Prize Innovation Summit in New York City, which he was due to attend at the same time last year, but was forced to cancel after the late Queen’s death.
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